Charlie Schmidt

Charlie Schmidt is an award-winning freelance science writer based in Portland, Maine. In addition to writing for Harvard Health Publishing, Charlie has written for Science magazine, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Environmental Health Perspectives, Nature Biotechnology, and The Washington Post.


Posts by Charlie Schmidt

Hormonal treatments for prostate cancer may prevent or limit COVID-19 symptoms

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Men have roughly twice the risk of developing severe disease and dying from COVID-19 than women. Scientists say this is in part because women mount stronger immune reactions to the disease’s microbial cause: the infamous coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. Now research with prostate cancer patients points to another possible explanation, which is that the male sex […]

Hormonal treatments for prostate cancer are often given late

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Men with advanced prostate cancer are typically treated with drugs that cause testosterone levels to plummet. Testosterone is a hormone that fuels growing prostate tumors, so ideally this type of treatment, which is called androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), or hormonal therapy, will stall the disease in its tracks. For that to happen, ADT has to […]

A new hormonal therapy for prostate cancer is under expedited FDA review

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

In June, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched an accelerated review of a promising new drug for advanced prostate cancer. Called relugolix, it suppresses testosterone and other hormones that speed the cancer’s growth. If approved, this new type of hormonal therapy is expected to set a new standard of care for the disease. […]

New drugs approved for advanced BRCA-positive prostate cancer

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Defective BRCA genes are well known for their ability to cause breast and ovarian cancers in women. But these same gene defects are also strong risk factors for aggressive prostate cancer in men. About 10% of men with metastatic prostate cancer — meaning cancer that is spreading away from the prostate — test positive for […]

Combining different biopsies limits uncertainty in prostate cancer diagnosis

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Are prostate cancer biopsies reliably accurate? Not always. The most common method, called a systematic biopsy, sometimes misses tumors, and it can also misclassify cancer as being either more or less aggressive than it really is. During systematic biopsy, a doctor takes 12 evenly-spaced samples of the prostate, called cores, while looking at the gland […]

New radiation therapies keep advanced prostate cancer in check

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Treatments for prostate cancer are always evolving, and now research is pointing to new ways of treating a cancer that has just begun to spread, or metastasize, after initial surgery or radiation. Doctors usually give hormonal therapies in these cases to block testosterone, which is a hormone that makes the cancer grow faster. But newer […]

New study compares long-term side effects from different prostate cancer treatments

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Prostate cancer therapies are improving over time. But how do the long-term side effects from the various options available today compare? Results from a newly published study are providing some valuable insights. Investigators at Vanderbilt University and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center spent five years tracking the sexual, bowel, urinary, and hormonal […]

African American and white men who receive comparable treatments for prostate cancer have similar survival

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Last year, we reported on two studies showing that African American men respond at least as well as white men to prostate cancer treatments given in clinical trials. Nationally, African Americans with prostate cancer are more than twice as likely to die of the disease as their white counterparts, and that has fueled speculation that […]

Researchers urge prostate cancer screening for men with BRCA gene defects

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Prostate cancer screening with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test has been criticized for flagging too many slow-growing tumors that might never be life-threatening. But some men have inherited gene defects that boost their risk of developing prostate cancers that can be quite aggressive. Is PSA screening particularly well-suited for these genetically defined groups? New research […]

Most men can hold off on radiation after prostate cancer surgery

Charlie Schmidt

Editor, Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Diseases

Decisions about follow-up care after prostate cancer surgery sometimes involve a basic choice. If the cancer had features that predict it could return, doctors will likely recommend radiation therapy. But when should a man get that treatment? Should he get the radiation right away, even if there’s no evidence of cancer in the body (this […]